One of the fundamental rights that liberal democracies have ensured around the world is that of freedom of expression. Inevitably dictatorships and authoritarian governments end up, sooner or later, censoring opinions, persecuting the media, and harassing critical voices. But as always, the coin of freedom has the face of responsibility in its reverse.
The dictatorship of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro has attacked this fundamental right on countless opportunities. In Argentina, beyond the existing economic problems, ideas flow without major inconveniences. But, although there are voices of all kinds of political and ideological stripes, the issue of responsibility also appears here as a fundamental issue. Not with respect to journalistic and business work, but also with respect to public opinion. The public, if it intends to have a fairly informed judgment of the facts, can not trust the first thing that comes to its eyes or ears. A variety of sources, critical judgment, and individual perspective are vital when assimilating content. But the lack of analysis is not the only problem that the reader can have: ideological prejudices and the selection of information depending on what one wants to read a priori represents an important problem in the field of communication today.
Media outlets supportive of governments or of certain political sectors tend to contribute more to confusion than to information. This does not mean that each journalistic entity does not have the right to its editorial profile within a framework of ideas in particular, but when they are not questions of principles, but of people, politicians, or interest groups, the result is crude, leading to justification of the unjustifiable, lack of information, obsequiousness, and even the absurd end up being common fare.
The Kirchnerista newspaper Pagina/12 this morning published a column that, rather than the “opinion” section, would be better suited to a space in a section called “Goebbelsian propaganda.” According to the American economist Mark Weisbrot, Donald Trump and the United States government are responsible for the “thousands of deaths” in Venezuela. According to the thesis of the author, who runs the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) based in Washington DC, as Venezuela depends on petrodollars, the sanctions against the Chavista dictatorship translate into thousands of starving people, who suffer from lack of medicines and now have succumbed to the maliciousness of the United States.
It is outrageous that in his piece he makes no reference to the economic collapse of Venezuelan socialism, before the sanctions imposed on the Maduro dictatorship. The usurpation of an illegitimate government, which in addition to plunging the country into an economic hell and subjecting the population to a humanitarian tragedy, requires a battery of measures on the part of the international community for democratic restoration. But what is beyond discussion is that the only entity responsible for what has happened is the Chavista government. According to the author’s thesis, the country was once a paradise of social justice, which suddenly became a hellhole of death and destruction, because of Donald Trump.
For the columnist, Chavismo is in a position to “take measures” to solve the problem of hyperinflation, but unfortunately it can not do it because of the “new oil embargoes.” Undoubtedly, such a journalistic piece deserves to be worthy of study, for its biases. The quality of Pagina/12‘s journalistic output has dropped immensely; yet, at the time of its founding, it was an interesting and intelligent center-left newspaper.
A few years ago, Weisbrot traveled to Venezuela to see the reality with his own eyes. He returned to the United States, and assured us that the Venezuelan people were happy; that its reported problems were merely the result of isolated criticism from a cabal of millionaires and that the risk of the country falling into hyperinflation was “very remote.” In the same era Weisbrot spoke of the wonders of Cristina Kirchner and relied on her falsified data from the Institute of Statistics and Census.
Towards the end of his article, Weisbrot calls on the “recognized progressives” of the United States, to rally against the sanctions against the Maduro regime, so that Chavismo can return to the virtuous task of solving the nations economic crisis without problems.
Although Página/12 and Mark Weinsbrot consider that the publication of this article has constituted a valuable credit to the Nicolás Maduro regime, the only thing they did was to remind the general public of a reality, which is even clearer in the face of such arguments.
Trump is not responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe. Neither is the US government, the EU, Colombia, or Brazil. Maduro, Chavez, and their band of thieves bears that responsibility.